The Difference Between a Manager and a Leader

It may seem like an insignificant designation, but there really is a world of difference between these two roles. Ask yourself, what would my company look like if all of my managers were true leaders? What would it look like if all your leaders suddenly reverted to being managers? It is a safe bet that the effects would be significant.

As theories of management have become more complex and evidence based, a new emphasis has been placed on recruiting leaders, and avoiding mere managers. All companies need someone to keep the ship on course, but leaders have unique personality traits, skill sets, and ambitions that ultimately benefit companies more. We have put together this simple guide to to help you identify and foster future leaders.


Leaders Create Value, Managers Count Value

The most basic job of a manager is to align day to day tasks with broader business goals. This is important, but it rarely accomplishes more than simply quantifying what has been done. They ensure that expectations are met, but they don’t push the people below them to go farther.

Leaders, by contrast, encourage and empower the people around them to do more with the same tools. Leaders understand when their own actions are getting in the way of productivity or morale, and they give their employees the resources they need to succeed today, tomorrow, and long into the future.

Leaders Use Influence, Managers Use Power

Managers use their position to exert power over the people they are responsible for. Decisions are made from the top down, and subordinates are rarely asked for their feedback. Ultimately, this strategy is disempowering for the employee, and isolating for the manager, leading to a dysfunctional working relationship.

Leaders are cognizant that they are in a position of responsibility, but they use that to establish their influence. Rather than wielding power, they go out of their way to prove that they deserve it. That creates an environment of respect, and opens space for ideas to evolve thanks to the guided input of many.

Leaders Lead People, Managers Manage Work

Managers may view their subordinates as a means to an end. The consequence is that they can end up feeling like cogs in a machine whose skills and abilities are disrespected. The work becomes more important than the people performing it.

Leaders start with the philosophy that the team they supervise is made up of individuals, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. By respecting their humanity, and treating them as people rather than mere employees, they are able to accentuate the good and minimize the bad.

Is Your Company Made Up of Leaders or Managers?

Both management and leadership are key. Recruiting managers that also have leadership qualities is an excellent way to set your team up for success. To learn more about what it takes for today’s companies to thrive, rely on the recruiting specialists at Selectek.